There cannot be many operations you prepare for by placing your hands on a fluffy cushion.

But in session two of Dartford-based hypnotherapist Gareth Sammer’s three stage gastric band hypnosis programme, it helps to be relaxed when going ‘under the knife’.

After an opening session which seeks to change your perception of food, stage two involves convincing you that you have actually had the operation.

With other avenues short of real surgery exhausted, clients weighing 20 stone or more come to Gareth for the weight-loss hypnotherapy which makes up 90 per cent of his business.

The 33-year-old uses a water bottle to illustrate the concept at his Invicta Road home and workplace.

He said: "Imagine that bottle there is your stomach.

"What they will do is pull a thick rubbery band around the top of the stomach and it will look a bit like an egg timer.

"The food will stick in that section and take a while to move into the rest of the stomach meaning your brain will tell you not to eat any more."

Simple, except for the next hour there would be no scalpel and rubber band tightening around my belly but Gareth’s lilting voice convincing me there had been.

The former Coca-Cola customer services worker tells me I may even feel physical effects.

He said: "It can be an uncomfortable feeling: never painful, but uncomfortable.

"It can be like butterflies in the stomach."

After being encouraged to find my "perfect place", I am walked through the operation right from receiving a letter at my front door with an admission date, to being under the lights with the surgeon poised.

Without going into gory detail, Gareth tells me my new "tiny, tiny, tiny" stomach is now in place and the effects are clear.

From finding a hunk in a shop window is actually my own reflection to basking in the congratulations of people I meet on the street, this is all good fun.

Apparently the jealousy of my friends only makes me feel "more proud" of shaking the flab.

After the hour-long session I did have a weird feeling in my gut but I don’t know if it was the brain convinced my tummy was in a twist.

Perhaps session three of the £299 programme will really tie the knot.

Contact Gareth Sammer on 07929 118250, via, or visit